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Full text of "My Country And My People"

LITERARY    LIFE                        227

1934 was this founder of the personal style of writing rescued
from partial or total oblivion. Yuan also never had the courage,
or the insight, to advocate the use ofpekhua, or the vernacular
tongue, in writing. It was rather the writers of popular novels
who had given up all ambition to literary fame and who were
forced to write in the pehkua to make their novels intelligible
to the public that laid the true foundation of literature in the
living tongue. Consequently, when Dr. Hu Shih advocated
the use of this medium, he had, as he repeatedly insisted, the
groundwork thoroughly prepared for him for nearly a thousand
years by these novelists, and people writing in the new medium
had ready first-class models before them. Hence its complete
overwhelming success in the space of three or four years.

Two important changes followed the literary revolution.
First, the cultivation of the personal, familiar style of writing,
represented by the Chou brothers, Ghou Tsojen and Ghou
Shujen ("Lusin"), It is noteworthy that Ghou Tsojen was
greatly influenced by the school of Yuan Ghunglang. The
second change was the so-called "Europeanization of Chinese"
in syntax as well as in vocabulary, as silly in the former as it is
inevitable in the latter. The introduction of Western terms is
only natural, for old terms axe not adequate to represent
modern concepts. It began with Liang Ch'ich'ao in the
eighteen nineties, but was greatly aggravated or accelerated
after 1917. With the mania for Western things, this European-
ization of Chinese may well be regarded as an aggravation,
but the style introduced is so foreign to the Chinese language
that it cannot last This situation is especially bad in trans-
lations of foreign works, which are as preposterous as they are
unintelligible to the average Chinese reader.

Actually, such atrocities are perpetrated by translators for
no other reason than their insufficient mastery of the foreign
language, which forces them to translate word by word without
sensing the total concept of the phrase. (Notre-Dame de Paris
has actually been translated as "My Parisian Wife.") Imagine
also the grotesqueness of translating long English relative
clauses following their antecedents into Chinese, with the
relative clauses (which do not exist in Chinese) changed into a
long string of modifiers extending over several lines before